After PSU’s big (in a relative sense) win against the Hoosiers, the Nittany Lions are back on the road again against another winnable opponent, the extremely young Michigan Wolverines. The only returnees with Big Ten experience for the Maize n Blue are Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Matt Vogrich, and Darius Morris. This is not too much of a preview (fantasy football championship today) but I wanted to get some thoughts out before this game.
PSU can win, but as usual, it all depends on Jeff Brooks. UM has a fresh, green frontline that I don’t think can handle Brooks’ versatility. True freshmen Jon Horford, brother of Al, is the only shot-blocking presence for Michigan, but I think he’ll have some trouble with Brooks’ quickness. I don’t see anybody stopping Brooks but himself or the zebras. Need another big game from Jeff today.
Defensively, I think the key is A) what defense DeChellis throws out there and B) how can Frazier guard breakout star Darius Morris (if the Lions play primarily man). Morris isn’t a deep threat, but he’s nearly the top assist man in the country and is making 58% of his 2′s (out of 108 attempts, around 8 a game). Michigan has a lot of shooters that can bust any zone looks, so I think the Lions will go back to man. It’ll also be huge if DJ Jackson, a 5th year senior, can stifle true freshmen wing man, Tim Hardaway Jr.
Taran Buie is out again today, so I don’t think any bench production is going to make any difference. Michigan’s future looks bright. It seemed obvious to me that Harris and Sims last year did more to hurt that team than help them. They are better without them, but they still only have 10 scholarship players, 8 of whom are underclassmen. Penn State’s experience should make the difference today, but there is no positive certainty with this squad.
KenPom likes Michigan 63-58. I have to agree. Penn State shows continued inability to defend the three point line. That’ll be the difference. Plus, I don’t like taking on the risk that Jackson, Battle, and Brooks will all be on for the Nits to win. However, with a pretty daring homestand on the horizon, this is a game PSU needs to win if they want to be competitive in the league.